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By Forrest Hershberger
Publisher Sidney Sun-Telegraph 

School Supt. Ehler Updates Board on COVID Response


November 18, 2020 | View PDF

With the Panhandle Public Health District's Risk Dial entering the Red, the Severe Risk, category, the Sidney School District Administration are making plans against increasing cases associated with the school district.

“It's a reality we're all facing,” District Supt. Jay Ehler said in the Nov. 9 meeting.

According to the PPHD information from Nov. 9, has entered the highest of the four marks on the Risk Dial: Low, Moderate, High and Severe. As of the afternoon Nov. 9 update, the PPHD reported 23,032 tests since March with 4,472 returning positive. Of that number 2,270 have recovered and there are 2,178 active cases. There have been 24 deaths in the Panhandle area related to COVID-19. There are 78 active hospitalizations. The number of confirmed cases began to climb in October after maintaining low numbers through the summer.

“It's important to remember few of these contacts happened in school,” Ehler said. “I don't think we have any evidence of transmission in the school, only by close contact.”

Under the new Directed Health Measure, indoor events can be held at a maximum of 25 percent of capacity, not the 50 percent that had been in place. The impact on the school district is sports events such as volleyball will be at 25 percent of capacity or close family only.

“We'll livestream all of our home games,” he said.

Ehler added COVID-19 is impacting staff as well.

“We are having staff, teachers, that are having to quarantine,” he said.

He said some may apply remote learning to the curriculum.

He said if a person in the school is identified as close contact with a positive case, that person will have to wear a mask all day at school, and maintain six feet of distance.

“It's not a perfect world. That's for sure. We're doing the best we can,” Ehler said.

In other business, the board approved an early graduation request by Beau Wamsley.

“I'm happy to report Beau has stepped up and completed 50 percent of his online classes,” said Sidney High School Principal Chris Arent.

The board was reminded their consent does not automatically mean Wamsley can graduate early. He still needs to meet his academic requirements.. Students seeking early graduation are required to write a letter requesting permission. In Wamsley's letter, he said he is ready to move on, and plans to attend a trade school in Mitchell, S.D. He said the rest of his family have left. He parents are in Sidney because he is finishing his senior year of high school.

The board also received reports from school principals, reviewed the District's budget and recognized Adarsha Ganesan as a National Rural Scholar.


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